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  • Samad Sagir

The Size of the fight in the Dog: Barnet’s journey from non-existence to Champions in one season

This time last year, there was no such thing as Barnet having a Senior men’s team competing in the NBL. Sure, they had a good junior system, U18 and U16, there just never was that next phase. Players would be built in their system before moving onto other senior programmes.

Cue Chuck Duru, a product of the Barnet Bulldogs’ under 16 and under 18 programmes before heading over to prep school in the United States. Chuck returned to England to attend University at Newcastle. There he set up the university’s first ever National league team. Following four successful years there, Chuck moved back home to London to continue playing over the coming seasons for Hemel, Essex Leopards, and Westminster among others.

Then in 2017, discussions began with Ted Polson and the Polson Family, the owners of the Barnet Bulldogs; to set up and enter a Senior Men’s team into the NBL. With the lack of facilities being the core obstacle faced, Chuck and the Polson family worked tirelessly. Culminating in the Barnet Bulldogs competing in division 3 of the NBL from September 2023 in the freshly revamped Copthall leisure centre in Barnet. With standouts on the team like Prince Lartey, Benjy Stewart, and Connor O’Reilly along with the solid core of Barnet Junior alums; the Bulldogs roared into a 19-1 record in their inaugural season, becoming the D3 South Champions.

Speaking to Chuck, who was instrumental as a player, coach, and organiser of the team. He said,

“It has been a learning curve as Player/Coach, but I’ve been helped by having experienced players on the team who played at a high level before”.

Chuck is the heart and soul of this team, having gained great experience on his basketball journey from humble beginnings in London, then across the pond and back again in what can be described as coming full circle and paying dividends to where his Basketball genesis began.

The Bulldogs have not stopped and rested on their laurels. They are looking to make a deep playoff run. Having beaten Plymouth Patriots last Saturday 109-102 at home in what was a crazy atmosphere being supported at home by the Bulldogs family and the local community. Chuck described the team having been “well prepared,

focussed, and stopping the young patriots team in transition” as being the key factors for them in the win. Barnet then went on to blow-out East London's Phoenix 96-80, proving that they are indeed the best London based team in NBL's D3.

The Bulldogs continue their historic season this Saturday as they face off against Liverpool in the NBL D3 semi-finals!

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